Singapore’s inflation is seen to remain elevated until the first quarter of next year and the central bank will probably tighten further at the October review, according to a Bloomberg survey of economists.
Headline and core inflation forecasts show a quickening into year-end, before both measures start to ease in the January-March period and slip below 4% from the second quarter next year, a survey conducted from Aug 15 - Aug 18 shows. Headline inflation this year is expected to average 5.6% from a prior estimate of 4.9%, according to the survey.
“Top of everyone’s minds is the cost of living,” Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said in a National Day Rally speech Sunday. The government is doing “everything necessary” especially to aid the most vulnerable households coping with inflation, and will “stand ready to do more” if the outlook worsens, he said.
Core inflation, which excludes private transport and accommodation, and is the preferred gauge of the Monetary Authority of Singapore, probably hit a fresh 14-year high of 4.7% in July, according to a median estimate of economists in a separate Bloomberg survey ahead of data on Tuesday.
The city-state is still counted on to shield its recovery even after the economy shrank in the second quarter, with growth seen above 4% in July-September from a year ago. Economists revised down their 2022 growth estimate by 0.1 percentage point to 3.7% and see 2023 output easing to 2.8% from a previous estimate of 3%.
In a separate survey, all seven economists said that Singapore won’t lose its competitive edge against Hong Kong.
“Singapore enjoys political stability, capital and business activities are returning, and growth is relatively resilient around 3-4% for 2022,” said Selena Ling, head of Treasury Research & Strategy at Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp. “Higher inflation is a global phenomenon, but the MAS has been front-loading the monetary policy tightening.”
The move to treat Covid as “endemic” has given it a leg up on its in-region financial rival, said Khoon Goh, head of Asia research at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group, providing a “huge advantage” to Singapore. The city-state will scrap rules for wearing masks in most indoor settings, Lee said on Sunday.
After the central bank tightened policy for the third time this year in July, a majority of 13 economists surveyed expect another tightening at the October meeting. Economists from Barclays Plc and Nomura Holdings Inc. see a possibility of an off-cycle re-centring before then.
The median estimate for the currency slope was at 1.5% while the slope was seen to steepen by 0.5%, the survey shows.